Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We can't beat them off with a stick, here, sir...

Foo! Blarg! I have undergraduates coming out of my ears! Like those old movies where crowds pour in like grains of sand! Like the hordes of orcs in a chase scene from Lord of the Rings! (what? what's wrong with rewatching it as part of the holiday tradition?) I keep picking them out of my hair, my nose, my breakfast cereal, my backpack ... it's crazy!

Of course you must realize that having the UC thrown into a massive budget crisis and then having its president make obnoxious comments about the uselessness of such "fripperies" as, say, English and sociology majors, while not bothering to revise the GE requirements out of existence, means that we have a fuck-all of an enrollment crisis over here. Look, President Douchebag, you may not see the "value" of "majors" that aren't glorified vocational money-making programs, but every single damn one of your preferred majors needs X number of humanities classes to graduate, according to the current general catalog.

(You did see that article where Yudof is quoted as saying all majors and classes that don't bring in positive revenue for the university are useless pieces of shit, right? Because I got so mad at that Douchebag that I deleted the notice immediately and I'm too tired to link it up right now.)

Anyway, I have fifth and sixth year seniors petitioning me because they only have one class this quarter so far and they want to finish their GEs and graduate. And I know from watching the craziness in fall that none of this has anything to do with the slackerness or bad-student-ness of these kids, not this time around. I heard stories of students who have no units this quarter and can't get into anything. One of the grad students told me that there were 96 crashers for a full 200 person lecture over in the English department. At that rate, we could just open up a second lecture with more TAs, he said. Well we certainly have enough grad students who've been cut off their funding to run those sections, I replied.

And you know, we probably still have as many entitled spoiled little shits here as we always do. But man, I am not seeing them right now. Polite and desperate, that is what I'm seeing. None of this sending random and rude emails that never explain who they are crap that other profs keep complaining about. Nope, these students are there with twenty-seven million sheets of paper and schedules and whatnot, checking the time, showing up 15 minutes early to try and catch me beforehand, "Dr" ing and "Ma'm" ing me with nary a typo to be seen, asking me what are their odds and carrying a printout of their unofficial transcript so that I can instantly verify that they are in fact a graduating senior, kind of like how people will carry cash and a completed rental info form to a particularly in-demand apartment open house. These kids are super duper organized, walking the line between polite and pushy, all with this frantic little light in their eyes.

It reminds me of me and the other grad students navigating the job market. And this isn't even for something nearly as big. That just really sucks.

7 comments:

mominsanity said...

I read something in the NEw Yorker recently about the crisis with UC. It just seems like one big cluster out there - I don't know what I can say or do to make it better except that I'm sorry and that I hope it gets better soon.

Belle said...

Good grief. Yudof needs a head douce, obviously. However, you be careful what you wish for, because he sounds dumb enough to simply drop all GE reqs and switch what used to be a great system into a laughing stock.

We've whole schools chez moi arguing for dropping GenEd altogether. Because, we know, that vocational schools are all the rage...

Bardiac said...

I mourn for my home state these days. It takes a lot to make the NW U system look good, but somehow Yudof's doing it.

Bardiac said...

Sisyphus, I tried to email you at that address on the sidebar, but it bounced back as undeliverable. Could you drop me an email, please, at bardiacblogger at yahoo dot com.

Thanks :)

bitternsweet said...

Wow. Whenever it seems like the news coming out of the UCs can't get any worse ... it gets worse. That Yudoff is such an ass. I hate "entitled spoiled little shit" students -- but there is something so heartbreaking about your portrait of your students, forced to adopt these supplicating, desperate ways just to finish their degrees, that almost makes me mourn for the easy-going college student experience.

Hang in there Cog!

Sisyphus said...

Bitternsweet, the students who made it through my hoops to get in were very on top of things. This is professionalizing them. I just feel that, like the intense pressures to professionalize on the academic job market, it is shaping these students in other ways too.

Shane in Utah said...

What Bardiac said. I complain a lot about my administration, but they are sage and beneficent leaders compared to the astounding incompetence of Yudof. I'm convinced he was put in that job deliberately and specifically to destroy the greatest system of public higher education in the country. You know: Grover Norquist, drowning big government in the bathtub, etc.